3. What is Mandatory Provision.
▪ Mandatory Enactments or Statutes means such Statutes whose
provisions are required to be followed as they are. Their
performance can neither be avoided nor can be construed. They
cannot be ignored also.
4. What is Directory Provision
▪ Directory Enactments means such enactments which or whose
provisions are not required to be followed as they are. Their
performance or non-performance depends upon discretion. On non-
performance of such enactments, no sanction could be imposed.
▪ performances of Mandatory enactments are a legal binding whereas the
performance of directory enactments is voluntary, optional, or discretion.
5. Case Laws:
▪ Hari Mshnu Kanaath v/s Ahmed Ishaq (1955 S.C.R) the meaning
of Mandatory and Directory Enactments was clarified and it was
said that it is compulsory to strictly and literally perform
Mandatory enactments whereas the performance of Directory
Enactments is voluntary and discretionary. Non-performance of
Mandatory Enactments shall be penalized non-performance of
directory Enactments cannot be penalized.
6. ▪ Jagannath v/s Jaswant Singh (AIR 1954 S.C. 210) – Both types
of enactments are defined, while holding that those enactments
which are to be followed compulsorily are Mandatory Enactments.
Those enactments have the provision of sanction on non-
▪ Punjab Co-operative Bank Ltd. Amritsar v/s Commissioner of
Income Tax, Lahore (A I R 1940 P.C. 230) :Privy Council held
that Mandatory enactments are capable of being strictly followed
while Directory enactments could be sufficient to Perform
▪ Vijay Kumar Vishwash v/s Navjug Large Size Cooperative
Agricultural Credit Society Ltd. (A. I R 1998 Calcutta
216) Calcutta High Court said about Mandatory and Directory
Enactments that a definite time is fixed for the performance of the
statute, it shall be Directory and not mandatory
7. Determination of Mandatory or Statutory
Its determination depends upon two points
(a) Language of Statute or Enactment: and
(b) Intention of law
▪ Nasiruddin v/s Sitaram Agrawal (A.l R 2003 S C. 1543) supreme
Court also decided that the Mandatory or Directory Nature of any
Statute could be determined by two points-—the language of the
statute and the intention of the legislature.
8. In respect to the performance of statute following words are used:
▪ It must be lawful. and
▪ As he deems fit, etc.
These words should be understood in their natural sense while
construing. Also, the intention of the legislature should be kept in
9. The use of ‘Shall’
▪ When any statute uses ‘Shall’ then it shall be construed firstly as
Mandatory provision. (State of Uttar Pradesh v/s Baburam, A.I.R
1961 S.C. 751).
This is not an absolute rule.
▪ Shariffuddin v/s Abdul Gani (A.I.R. 1980 S.C. 303) : Supreme
Court said that while ‘interpreting the word ‘Shall’, the intention of
the legislature should be considered and to know the intention of
legislature, Content, imagination, etc. of statutes should be
10. The use of ‘May’
▪ The word ‘May’ represent optional or discretionary acts or ifs
provision. In other words. It could be said that. The word ‘May’
used in statute represents the discretionary powers of performance
of that statute or its provision, (M. Jagmohan Reddy v/s Deputy
Secretary, AIR, 1982 Andhra Pradesh 182).
▪ But. If liability has been imposed along with the discretion of
public authority in a statute, the word ‘May’ be construed as ‘shall’
or ‘must’ (Ranga Swami v/s Sagar Textile Mills, A, I.R. 1977 S C.
11. Similarly, if any provision contains both ‘Shall’ and ‘May’, then these
words should be construed as Mandatory and Directory respectively.
But this is also not an absolute rule. Ganesh Prasad v/sLakshmi
Narain (A I R. 1995 S (1964) : It was said that in such matters,
words should be construed in accordance with the intention of the
legislature even though it may be in a different form.
12. The use of ‘Must’
▪ The word ‘Must’ represents compulsorily as mandatory. Such
words should be construed as to be performed compulsorily. There
is no place for Discretion
13. ‘It must be Lawful’
▪ The phrase ‘It must be Lawful’ represents duty. It includes both
duties and powers. It provides powers to perform and function and
simultaneously also imposes duty with it. Such provisions are
required to be performed
▪ Lord Blackburn says that the words ‘it shall be lawful’ are not
ambiguous. This is a phrase that provides power and
jurisdiction. [Julius v/s Bishop of Oxford, (1880) 5 A.C. 214]
14. ‘As he deems fit’
▪ The Expression ‘As he deems fit’ represents discretionary powers
to do an act. It depends upon the discretion of the Court to do any
act or not. But it does not mean that the Court can act voluntarily.
Courts are required to use this discretionary power in Accordance
with Judicial Principles.
15. Intention of Legislature
▪ In ‘Raza Buland Sugar Co. Limitred V. Municipal Board, Rampur’ –
1964 (10) TMI 82 - a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that the
question whether a provision is mandatory or directory, cannot be resolved
by laying down any general rule and it would depend upon the facts of each
case. As to whether a provision is mandatory or directory, would, in the
ultimate analysis, depend upon the intent of the law maker and that has to be
gathered not only from the phraseology of the provision but also by
considering the nature, its design and the consequence which would follow
from construing it in one way or the other. The Court has to consider the
purpose for which the provision had been made, its nature, the intention of
the legislature in making the provision, the serious general inconvenience or
injustice to persons resulting there from when the provision is read one way
or the other, the relation of the particular provision to other provisions
dealing with the same subject as well as other considerations which may
arise on the facts of a particular case, including the language of the
16. Procedural Provisions
▪ Generally, procedural provision is Considered of Directory Nature,
provided that the intention of the legislature is not otherwise, but it
is also not an absolute rule or principle. Provisions regarding the
procedure can be Mandatory also.
▪ Raghunath v/s Sunder Das (A.I.R. 42 Kolkata 72) Provisions of
Code of Civil Procedure. 1908 were considered to be Mandatory
17. Public Duties & Private Duties
▪ In ‘Dattatraya Moreshwar Vs. The State of Bombay and others’ –
1952 (3) TMI 32 - it was held that it is well settled that generally
speaking the provisions of the statute creating public duties are
directory and those conferring private rights are imperative. When
the provisions of a statute relate to the performance of a public duty
and the case is such that to hold null and void acts done in neglect
of this duty would work serious general inconvenience or injustice
to persons who have no control over those entrusted with the duty
and at the same time would not promote the main object of
legislature, it has been the practice of the courts to hold such
provisions to be directory only the neglect of them not affecting the
validity of the acts done.
18. Time Related Provisions
▪ Where there is the provision of performing an act within a time
period, there shall be considered to be of Mandatory Nature
otherwise Directory. In other words, it can be said that where time
is the essence of the contract, such provisions are of Mandatory
Nature Bhavnagar University v/s Palitana Sugar Mills Ltd. (A
R2003 S.C. 511) : It was held where the limitation to do an act and
its consequences have been expressed, their such provisions should
be deemed Mandatory.
▪ If the legislature intents to completion of an act within a definite
time period, then this intention is required to be provided in the
statute, (Hindustan Life Insurance Company V/ s Life Insurance
Corporation, A.I.R 1963 S.C. 1083).
▪ There are various tests to determine whether a particular provision
of statute is “mandatory” or “directory” in nature. Lord Campbell
said that no universal rule can be laid down as to whether
mandatory enactments shall be considered directory only or
obligatory with an implied nullification for disobedience.
▪ Based on various judgements, it can be said that:
▪ any time limits prescribed in a subordinate legislation can only
be termed as directory;
▪ a provision as to whether it is ‘mandatory’ or ‘director’ would
depend upon the object of the enactment; and
▪ the consequences of violating the provision must not affect the
interest of the other party and would defeat the purpose of the